Spiritual honesty is a lost art in the Christian world today, but God requires absolute honesty and faithfulness to Him in all things. “Faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). If we just speak about faith in God, but not do what His Word says, we deceive ourselves. A righteous standing before God is critical and that only comes by combining spoken and acting faith. (James 2:22) Abraham’s “faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.”

Spiritual honesty is being willing to see our spiritual condition in light of the Scriptures. We must be honest and sincere in trusting God to receive answers to prayer. There are only two classes of people in the world. One class is not willing to be honest before God, and the other is willing to be shown any spiritual lack. Jesus said (Matthew 12:30) “He who is not with me is against me.”

It can seem that we are making an honest effort to trust God, but in our heart we are justifying ourselves and placing the blame on God. We can convince ourselves that we are doing the best we can and thus place the blame on something else. Spiritual dishonesty will hinder the spiritual light (and answer to prayer) God wants to give. Spiritual honesty admits that we (ourselves) are hindering God somewhere, or we would have received the victory long ago. God is always right, so we have to be the one in the wrong.

If we will be spiritually honest with ourselves and take an attitude of humility before God, He promises to give all the spiritual wisdom we could need to meet a situation right (or receive an answer to prayer). The apostle Paul reminded (Romans 3:4) “Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written” [quoting from Psalm 51:4] ”Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.”

If we are willing to lay aside all preconceived ideas, and be open to the divine light God wants to give, we are sure to receive it. (Ephesians 5:13-14 WEY) “Everything can be tested by the light and thus be shown in its true colors [spiritual honesty]; for whatever shines of itself is light. For this reason it is said, ‘Rise, sleeper; rise from among the dead, and Christ will shed light upon you.’” The spiritual benefits and blessings of the atonement sacrifice of Christ (which removes sin) are waiting to be given.

The Holy Spirit is ready to illuminate our mind to understand any spiritual thing (if we are honest and willing to see ourselves in light of God’s Word). (1 Corinthians 2:12) “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” God is waiting to give (James 1:17) “Every good and perfect gift.”

We must be alert because Satan can deceive us to see things opposite to what they actually are. A spiritually honest attitude toward God will bring spiritual wisdom from God. He promises (James 1:5) “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault.” Our responsibility is to be spiritually honest and to place the blame on our own spiritual condition.

The Bible gives real-life examples of spiritual honesty. The two criminals crucified with Jesus show two different attitudes. No one could be in a worse situation than these two thieves were in, but one had an attitude of spiritual honesty and the other did not. One was willing to admit that his own sins are what caused him to be in that situation. He blamed himself and acknowledged that God was right. This is valuable spiritual light for everyone.

These two criminals were at the very gate of Hell and only one thing stood between them and the lake of fire forever—a change of attitude! One was honest before God (and changed his attitude), so God turned that horrible situation into a springboard to Heaven. The other criminal justified himself, blamed Jesus, and went to eternal suffering in Hell. Only an attitude change separated the one from the other!

Being spiritually honest before God (and always open to spiritual light) is a salvation issue. The huge difference between them (and the two opposite destinations) was their attitude! The example is recorded for our salvation. (Luke 23:39 WEY) “Now one of the criminals who had been crucified insulted Him, saying, “Are not you the Christ? Save yourself and us.” Satan dominated that man’s life and caused him to take that wicked attitude.

(40) “But the other, answering, reproved him. ‘Do you also not fear God,’ he said, ‘when you are actually suffering the same punishment?” He meant, you are at the jaws of death and yet show no fear of God! How can you have that rebellious attitude when you are facing eternity?

Spiritual honesty is seen in the other man’s attitude. He said (Luke 23:41) “We indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving due requital for what we have done. But He [Jesus] has done nothing amiss.” If God can find one human soul (anywhere in the world) who will take that attitude and be open to the spiritual light they need, God promises to give it. It is a revolution in reasoning—(Romans 12:2) “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is.”

The man’s honest prayer showed the sincerity of his heart. (Luke 23:42) “Jesus, remember me when you come in your Kingdom.” He would be justified by faith in Christ. It was a humble attitude and an honest prayer. (Luke 18:13) “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Jesus answered that prayer immediately (Luke 23:43) “I tell you in solemn truth, that this very day you shall be with me in Paradise,” just as He said concerning the tax collector. (Luke 18:14) “I tell you that this man [who showed spiritual honesty], rather than the other, went home justified before God.”

These examples show how important it is to be humble, respectful, and repentant before God. The man with humility and spiritual honesty was given eternal life—just by changing his attitude before God! The one man will suffer torture in the lake of fire forever (pleading for a drop of water to cool his tongue), and the other will spend eternity in Heaven—(praising God forever and ever). What a reward and what a contrast between an honest and a rebellious heart.

God gave John the Baptist the spiritual light to recognize spiritual dishonesty. The scribes and Pharisees looked religious outwardly, but their hearts were rebellious inwardly. If those men were here today, most denominational church ministers would consider them believers and on their way to Heaven, because they (themselves) do not recognize the rebellious attitude in their own heart (much less in someone else). Outward piety and giving to charity does not justify the sinner, but a genuine trusting faith in the atonement sacrifice of Christ does!

The religious leaders in the first century looked pious and they tried to live up to the Law of Moses. They were careful not to pick up a mat nor light a fire on the Jewish Sabbath. Jesus said that such people appeared righteous (Matthew 23:27 WEY) “Alas for you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you are just like whitewashed sepulchres, the outside of which pleases the eye, though inside they are full of dead men’s bones and of all that is unclean.”

They wanted to be baptized, but John the Baptist had spiritual insight from God and saw through their hypocrisy. (Luke 3:7) “You brood [generation KJV] of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” He was calling them children of the devil (which was actually what they were) because they wanted John to think they were sincere in heart (when they were not).

They were hypocrites because they were not willing to be honest and admit they had no change of heart. A generation of vipers means they were descendants of that ancient and wicked serpent who deceived Adam and Eve. It was as Jesus said Luke 20:46 WEY) “Beware of the Scribes” who look pious on the outside but are spiritually wicked on the inside.

John knew their intentions so he asked, Who warned you to flee the wrath of God. They had no intention of accepting Christ as their Savior and had no willingness to trust God for anything. John said (Luke 3:8) “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance [Live lives which shall prove your change of heart WEY].” Spiritual honesty was not in them, so John was saying, Do not just say words but let us see by your lives that you are trusting God and living by faith in the atonement of Christ.

It was a strong rebuke, but just what they needed. If there ever was an issue where spiritual honesty before God is needed, it is when our eternal life is at stake. John spoke the truth in love and said (9) “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be [quickly WEY] cut down and thrown into the fire.”

John was just informing them where they were spiritually in the sight of God. A logger places the ax against the tree when he stops for lunch with the intention of cutting down that tree next. John meant that God has already placed an ax at the feet of anyone who is not producing spiritual fruit by a trusting faith in Christ—(for life concerns, like divine wisdom, healing, protection, avenging wrongs and every other issue that involves trusting God for changing the heart).

If the Scribes or Pharisees would have been spiritually honest and had repented before God, He would have done as much for them as He would anyone else. From what the Bible records, they did not repent and continued to be controlled by the devil, so they would find themselves in the flames and pleading for relief. Spiritual honesty is an eternal life issue.

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